[buhk-ing-uhm-sheer, -sher]
Buckinghamshire, Buckingham, or Bucks, county (1991 pop. 619,500), 727 sq mi (1,883 sq km), central England. The county seat is Aylesbury. The Thames River forms the southern boundary of the county. In S Buckinghamshire are the chalky Chiltern Hills with their beech forests; furniture made from beechwood is one of the county's most notable manufactures. The area is largely agricultural; barley, wheat, oats, and beans are the chief crops of the fertile Vale of Aylesbury in N Buckinghamshire. Cattle, pigs, sheep, and poultry are raised farther south. Industries have developed in Aylesbury, High Wycombe, and Wolverton.

In ancient times Icknield Street and Watling Street crossed the county, which has extensive Roman and pre-Roman remains. Thomas Gray is buried at Stoke Poges, in the country churchyard that inspired his "Elegy." John Milton had a cottage for a time at Chalfont St. Giles, and the poet William Cowper spent many years at Olney. Also in Buckinghamshire are Hughenden Manor, home of the statesman Benjamin Disraeli; Checquers, a historic Tudor mansion and residence of British prime ministers since 1921; and Eton College, England's most famous public school.

Buckinghamshire (abbreviated Bucks) is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan home county in South East England. The county town is Aylesbury and the largest town in ceremonial Buckinghamshire is Milton Keynes.

The area under the control of Buckinghamshire County Council, or shire county, is divided into four districts - Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe. The Borough of Milton Keynes is a unitary authority and forms part of the county for various functions such as Lord Lieutenant but does not come under county council control. The ceremonial county, the area including Milton Keynes borough, borders Greater London, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.


The name Buckinghamshire is Anglo-Saxon in origin and means The district (scire) of Bucca's home. Bucca's home refers to Buckingham in the north of the county, and is named after an Anglo-Saxon landowner. The county has been so named since about the 12th century; however, the county itself has existed since it was a subdivision of the kingdom of Mercia (585–919).

The history of the area, though, predates the Anglo-Saxon period and the county has a rich history starting from the Celtic and Roman periods, though the Anglo-Saxons perhaps had the greatest impact on Buckinghamshire: the geography of the rural county is largely as it was in the Anglo-Saxon period. Later Buckinghamshire became an important political arena, with King Henry VIII intervening in local politics in the 16th century and just a century later the English Civil War was reputedly started by John Hampden in mid-Bucks.

Historically, the biggest change to the county came in the 19th century, when a combination of cholera and famine hit the rural county, forcing many to migrate to larger towns to find work. Not only did this alter the local economical picture, it meant a lot of land was going cheap at a time when the rich were more mobile and leafy Bucks became a popular rural idyll: an image it still has today. Buckinghamshire is a popular home for London commuters, leading to greater local affluence; however some pockets of relative deprivation remain.


The county can be split into two sections geographically. The south leads from the River Thames up the gentle slopes of the Chiltern Hills to the more abrupt slopes on the northern side leading to the Vale of Aylesbury, a large flat expanse of land, which includes the path of the River Great Ouse.



The county includes two of the three longest rivers in England. The River Thames forms the southern boundary with Berkshire, which has crept over the border at Eton and Slough meaning the river is no longer the sole boundary between the two counties. The River Great Ouse begins just outside the county in Northamptonshire and flows east through Buckingham, Milton Keynes and Olney.


The main branch of the grand Union Canal flows through the county as does its arms to Slough, Aylesbury, Wendover (disused) and Buckingham (disused). The canal has been incorporated into Milton Keynes.


At above sea level, the two highest points are Coombe Hill near Wendover, and Haddington Hill in Wendover Woods, Buckinghamshire, near Wendover where a stone marks the summit.

Ceremonial county

The ceremonial county of Buckinghamshire consists of the area administered by Milton Keynes Borough Council as well as that administered by Buckinhamshire County Council. The ceremonial county has a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff. Currently the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire is Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher and the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire is Amanda Nicholson. The Custos rotulorum has been combined with the duties of Lord Lieutenant since 1702.

Buckinghamshire Districts
District Main Towns Population (2006 estimate) Population (2007 estimate) Area Population Density (2007) '''Population Estimate 2026
Aylesbury Vale Aylesbury, Buckingham 172,000 174,100 902.75 km² 193/km² 213,000
Wycombe High Wycombe, Marlow 161,300 161,400 324.57 km²

497/km² 165,000
Chiltern Amersham, Chesham 90,300 90,800 196.35 km² 462/km² 89,000
South Bucks Beaconsfield, Burnham 63,700 64,300 141.28 km² 455/km² 63,800
TOTAL Non-Metropolitan N/A 487,300 490,600 1565 km² 313/km² 530,800
Milton Keynes (borough) Milton Keynes, Newport Pagnell 224,800 228,400 308.63 km² 740/km² 323,146
TOTAL Ceremonial N/A 712,100 719,000 1874 km² 384/km² 853,946

Population figures for 2006 from the Office for National Statistics as are figures for 2007 estimates See List of English districts by population for a full list of every English district.

As can be seen from the table, the Vale of Aylesbury and borough of Milton Keynes have been identified as growth areas, with a population surge of almost 50,000 people in Aylesbury Vale between 2006 and 2026 and 100,000 people in Milton Keynes within twenty years. The population of Milton Keynes is expected to reach almost 350,000 by 2031.


Buckinghamshire County Council

The county council was founded in 1889 with its base in new municipal buildings in Walton Street, Aylesbury (which are still there). In Buckinghamshire, local administration is run on a two-tier system where public services are split between the county council and a series of district councils.

In the 1960s the council moved into new premises: a 15-storey tower block in the centre of Aylesbury (pictured) designed by architect Thomas Pooley. Said to be one of the most unpopular and disliked buildings in Buckinghamshire, it is now a Grade II listed building.

In 1997 the northernmost part of Buckinghamshire in Milton Keynes Borough separated to form a unitary authority; however for ceremonial and some other purposes Milton Keynes is still considered to be part of Buckinghamshire.

Buckinghamshire County Council is a large employer within the County and provides a great variety of services, including education (schools, adult education and youth services), social services, highways, libraries, County Archives and Record Office, County Museum and Roald Dahl Children's Gallery in Aylesbury, consumer services and some aspects of waste disposal and planning.

Coat of arms

The coat of arms of Buckinghamshire County Council features a white swan in chains. This dates back to the Anglo-Saxon period, when swans were bred in Buckinghamshire for the king's pleasure. That the swan is in chains illustrates that the swan is bound to the monarch, an ancient law that still applies to wild swans in the UK today. The arms were first borne at the Battle of Agincourt by the Duke of Buckingham.

Above the swan is a gold band, in the centre of which is Whiteleaf Cross, representing the many ancient landmarks of the county. The shield is surmounted by a beech tree, representing the Chiltern Forest that once covered almost half the county. Either side of the shield are a buck, for Buckingham, and a swan, the county symbol.

The motto of the shield says Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum. This is Latin and means 'no stepping back'.

The flag of Buckinghamshire, which flies outside County Hall in Aylesbury, comprises red and black halves with a white swan. The flag takes the county emblem which is on the county shield.


Today Buckinghamshire is ethnically diverse, particularly in the larger towns. At the end of the 19th century some Welsh drover families settled in north Bucks and, in the last quarter of the 20th century, a large number of Londoners in Milton Keynes. Aylesbury has a sizeable Italian population, and Amersham has a large Polish community dating from World War Two. Amersham is twinned with Krynica in Poland. High Wycombe is the most ethnically diverse town in the county, with large Asian and Afro-Caribbean populations. There is also a Polish and Eastern European community.


Buckinghamshire has a modern service-based economy and is part of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire NUTS-2 region, which was the seventh richest subregion in the European Union in 2002 The southern part of the county is a prosperous section of the London commuter belt. The county has fertile agricultural lands, with many landed estates, especially those of the Rothschild banking family of England in the 19th century (see Rothschild properties in Buckinghamshire). Manufacturing industries include furniture-making (traditionally centred at High Wycombe), pharmaceuticals and agricultural processing.

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Buckinghamshire at current basic prices published by the Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling (except GVA index).

Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services GVA index per person
1995 6,008 60 1,746 4,201 118
2000 8,389 45 1,863 6,481 125
2003 9,171 50 1,793 7,328 118

In a recent nationwide survey, Buckinghamshire had the highest quality of life in the country, having the highest life expectancy and best education results.

Places of interest

The county is also home to the world famous Pinewood Studios.



Buckinghamshire (including Milton Keynes) is served by four motorways, although two are on its borders:

  • M40 motorway - cuts through the south of the county serving towns such as High Wycombe and Beaconsfield
  • M1 motorway - serves Milton Keynes in the north
  • M25 motorway - passes into Bucks but has only one junction (J16-interchange for the M40)
  • M4 motorway - passes through the very south of the county with only J7 in Bucks

Also the A41(M) comes into Buckinghamshire from the east to Aston Clinton.

Four important A roads also enter the county (from north to south):

  • A5 - serves Milton Keynes
  • A41 - cuts through the centre of the county, serving Aylesbury
  • A40 - parallels M40 through south Bucks and continues to central London
  • A4 - serves Taplow in the very south

Road travel east–west is good in the county because of the commuter routes leaving London for the rest of the country. There are no major roads that run directly between the south and north of the county (e.g. between High Wycombe and Milton Keynes).


Buckinghamshire has several lines running through it, serving many parts of the county. The main train operator in Buckinghamshire is Chiltern Railways which run trains on the Chiltern Main Line and London to Aylesbury Line. Towns served by Chiltern include Aylesbury, High Wycombe, Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross, and Amersham. Their headquarters is at Aylesbury. Virgin Trains and London Midland provide trains on the West Coast Main Line which runs to the north east of the county serving the town of Milton Keynes. London Underground's Metropolitan Line also serves towns in the south east of the county calling at Amersham and Chesham. There are proposals for a new rail service along the disused Varsity Line which runs right across the north of the county.


Largest Towns in Ceremonial Buckinghamshire (2001 census)
Town Population District Notes
Milton Keynes 184,506 Milton Keynes (borough) Unitary Authority since 1997. Population includes Newport Pagnell
High Wycombe 92,300 Wycombe Includes suburbs of Downley and Hazlemere. The High Wycombe Urban Area population is 118,229
Aylesbury 56,392 Aylesbury Vale County Town of Buckinghamshire. Population of Aylesbury Urban Area (including Stoke Mandeville and Bierton) is 69,021
Amersham 21,470 Chiltern
Chesham 20,357 Chiltern
Marlow 17,522 Wycombe
Buckingham 12,512 Aylesbury Vale Historically the county town of Buckinghamshire
Beaconsfield 12,292 South Bucks
Princes Risborough 8,121 Wycombe
Wendover 7,385 Aylesbury Vale
Olney 6,032 Milton Keynes Governed by Milton Keynes, not Bucks County Council
Winslow 4,519 Aylesbury Vale

For the full list of towns, villages and hamlets in Buckinghamshire, see List of places in Buckinghamshire.

In the 1960s and 1970s, some towns were taken by other counties:

Town Lost to
Eton Berkshire
Slough Berkshire
Linslade Bedfordshire


Buckinghamshire LEA has a completely selective education system with either grammar schools or secondary modern schools. There are 9 independent schools and 34 state schools, not including sixth form colleges. Milton Keynes has its own LEA which does not operate a selective education system.

Notable people

Anciently Buckinghamshire was the birth place and/or final resting place of several notable individuals. Saint Osyth was born in Quarrendon and was buried in Aylesbury in the 7th century while at about the same time Saint Rumwold was buried in Buckingham. From the medieval period Roger of Wendover was, as the name suggests, from Wendover and Anne Boleyn also owned property in the same town. It is said that King Henry VIII made Aylesbury the county town over Buckingham because Boleyn's father owned property there and was a regular visitor himself. Other medieval residents included Edward the Confessor who had a palace at Brill and John Wycliffe who lived in Ludgershall.

From a slightly later period Buckinghamshire became home to some notable literary characters. Edmund Waller was brought up in Beaconsfield and served as Member of Parliament for both Amersham and Wycombe. Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary spent some time living in Marlow, attracted to the town by their friend Thomas Love Peacock who also lived there. John Milton lived in Chalfont St Giles and his cottage can still be visited there and John Wilkes served as Member of Parliament for Aylesbury. Much later literary characters include Jerome K. Jerome who lived at Marlow, T. S. Eliot who also lived at Marlow, Roald Dahl who lived in Great Missenden, Enid Blyton who lived in Beaconsfield and Edgar Wallace who lived in Bourne End and is buried in Little Marlow. Modern-day writers from Bucks include Terry Pratchett who was born in Beaconsfield, Tim Rice who is from Amersham and Andy Riley who is from Aylesbury.

During the Second World War a number of politicians and world leaders from Europe came to England to seek exile. Due to its proximity to London various locations in Buckinghamshire were selected to house dignitaries. President Edvard Beneš of Czechoslovakia lived at Aston Abbotts with his family while some of his officials were stationed at nearby Addington and Wingrave. Meanwhile Władysław Sikorski, military leader of Poland, lived at Iver and King Zog of Albania lived at Frieth. Bucks is also notable for another exile, although this one much earlier: King Louis XVIII of France lived in exile at Hartwell House from 1809 to 1814.

Also on the local political stage Buckinghamshire has been home to Nancy Astor who lived in Cliveden, Frederick, Prince of Wales who also lived in Cliveden, Baron Carrington who lives in Bledlow, Benjamin Disraeli who lived at Hughenden Manor and was made Earl of Beaconsfield, John Hampden who was from Great Hampden and is revered in Aylesbury to this day and Prime Minister Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery who lived at Mentmore. Also worthy of note are William Penn who believed he was descended from the Penn family of Penn and so is buried nearby and the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who has an official residence at Chequers. Finally John Archdale colonial governor of North Carolina and South Carolina, although more notably American, was born in Buckinghamshire

Other natives of Buckinghamshire who have become notable in their own right include:

Today Buckinghamshire is a very picturesque landscape and is home to numerous celebrities and has attracted its fair share in the past. These include:

See also


External links

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